Michael Jackson to be buried brainless, coroners say brain must "harden" so tests can be completed.

Pop star Michael Jackson will be laid to rest today in a Los Angeles cemetary without his brain. Doctors investigating the cause of his death are retaining it for an undetermined period of time so they can perform further tests.
[The] LA coroner's office has still not completed its tests on Jackson's brain, and the singer's family have been advised that unless they wish to wait, he must be buried without it.

Jackson died from an apparent cardiac arrest on 25 June. Though his body was released the next day to relatives, his brain was not. The pop star's inert brain must "harden" for at least two weeks before doctors can conduct their neuropathology tests.

Doctors will examine Jackson's brain to help determine the cause of death, suspected of being linked to painkillers. Such examinations can also reveal unknown diseases, evidence of alcohol abuse or whether Jackson has suffered overdoses in the past.

Removing the brain is the "only way to carry out the tests" according to a source for the Mirror. "The tissue has to be examined. I can't tell you how long that is going to take."

Michael Jackson to be buried without his brain (Guardian UK, via @laughingsquid / Image courtesy Flickr user El_Enigma)


  1. This is the first bit of news since the initial breaking of his death that has interested me in the “M.J. is still dead” coverage that has swept the media like the black plague.

  2. That is fitting considering that his funeral arrangements seem to be garnering a Pharaoh-like level of interest. I wonder where they’ll put the sealed jars containing the rest of his organs.

  3. Is the family pushing for this? Is it even necessary? Seems extreme to me — if I were the family, I’d rather he be buried intact than dissected and studied just to know the cause of death. Then again, I bet there are a lot of people who would pay a lot of money to be the first to know the answer.

    1. if I were the family, I’d rather he be buried intact than dissected and studied just to know the cause of death.

      Yes, it’s quite common for people who inherit a lot of money to try to stop the autopsy.

  4. Well, the coverage of MJ’s death has almost risen to the level of coverage of Anna Nicole Smith’s death. ALMOST.

    Seriously, what was up with that? Was anybody more than vaguely aware that she existed before she died?

  5. Sorry, but every time I read the words “Michael Jackson’s brain” I see the image of Meatwad.

  6. I appreciate the LA Coroner and the Jackson family having the discretion to ensure that Jackson’s body is not ravaged by zombies.

  7. Anyone else reminded that MJ played the Scarecrow in the movie version of The Wiz? “If I only had a Brain,” indeed.

  8. #9, I don’t get the upset. It’s the only interesting bit of MJBS I’ve seen in the last few weeks/decades. Are you upset cuz your scene was cut from “We Are (the) Children”?

  9. Strange. And he played the Scarecrow in The Wiz. The Screcrow in The Wizard of Oz didn’t have a brain either.

  10. you know, if he were still alive, its the sorta thing he would try and buy…

    Bones from the elephant man, the odd chimp… dried brain from a famous person

  11. The truth is so obvious, yet no one is seeing it: He’s being buried in a casket encased in concrete, and w/o a brain. Why? King of Pop in life, King of Zombies in Undeath. Thriller!

  12. I’m going to file this info under “One more thing I never wanted to know” – that your brain needs to harden before a coroner can run tests on it.

    Is that why there were the shelves of brains available in Young Frankenstein?

  13. This is just not true. The brain does not have to harden, and its removed during the autopsy and sliced to determine disease, abnormalities, stroke etc.

    Plus its been two weeks since he died on June 25.

  14. Sure, it makes a good headline, but I just had a friend die of undetermined drug overdoses and I don’t remember them saying they needed the brain for a month.

    How many bodies are buried brainless in the US each year?

  15. They’re holding it for the future completion of a robot body so he can be reanimated!

  16. @2 Anonymous: It was one of his last unrealized dreams. I’ll feel better knowing that MechaJackson is going to have human intelligence and trace amounts of seventeen different opioids coursing underneath its light-up plasma ball cranial dome as it menaces the Mojave for centuries to come.

  17. Come on people, don’t you see? There is already documented proof of him rising from the dead once already. It was fortunate that someone was able to stop Vincent Price and his ghastly plot to “terrorize y’alls neigborhood”. With no way of knowing if we would be that lucky again, removing the brain was the only prudent course.

  18. I have it on good authority that it was taken for nefarious purposes by a man known only as…Mr. Squick.

  19. My wife is a pathologist. She confirms that for very delicate tissue like the brain, a long fixing process is required before the sample can be sectioned and analyzed, and that fixing time is usually several hours for tissue samples only a few millimeters in thickness.

  20. There’s actually a good book I read last year by Russel Shorto called Decartes Bones. Could we be seeing the repeat of something similar?

  21. They’ll lose it. And it’ll end up in the same trunk as the robot head of Philip K. Dick.

    Not that I know where that is.

  22. “Is the family pushing for this? Is it even necessary? Seems extreme to me”

    Does it even make any difference? Everything that is dead (and alive for that matter) goes away at some point, whether it’s in an autopsy lab or six feet under earth really isn’t relevant I think.

  23. If my iPod Touch’s â„¢ crappy batteryâ„¢ hadn’t died I would have been able to beat #28’s comment.

    They Saved Jackson’s Brain is of course a reference to They Saved Hitler’s Brain

    2049 and we could see the Return of The Kingâ„¢!

  24. It’s too bad this has to make the news. No one but the family and the authorities really need to know this. Autopsies are distressing enough to the family and friends left behind. This is even more so.

    A free press and an informed public are great things to wish for. While I’m at it, I’m wishing for a press that realizes it is free to cover only the important things. And for a public that realizes that knowing gossip is not the same as being informed.

    None of us wishes to see this kind of non-news censored. But there’s nothing wrong in wishing the press would include this on the bottomless list of things it just doesn’t need to report.

  25. Anonymous in #36 is correct. I work in the pathology department of a Portland hospital, and removing the brain is very common when the death is under suspicious circumstances. Tissue from any other part of the body can be processed anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours to overnight, but the brain needs to sit in formalin for many days before tissue can even be removed. The processing of that tissue, what with the many tests I’m sure they want to run, can take several more days. I’m sure that working under the scrutiny of such a high-publicity case means the coroner is not going to release the results until they are absolutely 100% positive of all of their findings.

    To me, this is a non-issue. Then again, I work with brains for a living (brains!). Regardless, I think it shows poor taste that the coroner even talked to the press at all, especially in such detail.

  26. So will they take his brain on tour, Einstein-style?

    Maybe someday they’ll clone him, it would be what he’d wanted (TM).

  27. So, his cranium is just lying there empty? That’s really creepy. Did they leave a note or a receipt in there at least? Something? I know I’d be tempted to put a little radio inside him so I could scare people with a Mr. Microphone.

  28. Brainspore 5: That is fitting considering that his funeral arrangements seem to be garnering a Pharaoh-like level of interest. I wonder where they’ll put the sealed jars containing the rest of his organs.

    I was wondering if anyone would make that connection. (Except in ancient Egypt, the brain was just thrown away, since they didn’t think it did anything important.) His whole coffin is a canopic jar.

  29. They can eventually cut it up and distribute it as saintly relics.

    Or better yet, cut it up, let the pieces dry out, and try to sell them as shrooms.

  30. Dear Michael,

    May your soul be touched by an angel of music in heaven like you have touched ours here on earth. May you rest in peace in heaven that you so deserve without judgement. Our hearts are filled with joy for knowing you were part of our life. Thank you for your brilliant mind, thank you for your kind heart. Some may have misunderstood you but not millions. They all adore you like no other.
    Nima Sherpa

  31. How can you people sound and and be so insensitive!!!. You have not learned anything from Michael Jackson’s life. He was remembered by many…without his brain, and you all have yours…oops, sorry I forgot, you can tell that you are the walking zombies, just read what you have wrote, for the evidence. Grow up.

  32. “You have not learned anything from Michael Jackson’s life.”

    Very true. Good observation.

  33. What?

    No references to “Mi-Go Jackson?”

    Am I the only one who sees this?

    Apparently, I am.

    I’m trapped in a Lovecraft story, aren’t I?


  34. @#24: “How many bodies are buried brainless in the US each year?”

    Are you kidding me? Who could resist taking a swing at a cantaloupe like the one you slow-pitched right there?


    “All of them!”

    Zing! Thank you and good night.

  35. At the end of the day he is a good man. lets each think of ourselves and introspect if we have contributed atleast 1/10 of what this man has contributed towards mankind.

  36. I’m sorry, I really just couldn’t help myself… Please forgive me.

    He could wile away the hours
    Conferrin’ with the flowers
    Consultin’ with the rain
    And his head he’d be scratchin’
    While his thoughts were busy hatchin’
    If he only had a brain

    He’d unravel any riddle
    For any individ’le
    In trouble or in pain

    With the thoughts you’d be thinkin’
    You could be another Lincoln
    If you only had a brain

    Oh, he would tell you why
    The ocean’s near the shore
    He could think of things he never thunk before
    And then he’d sit and think some more

    He would not be just a nuffin’
    His head all full of stuffin’
    His heart all full of pain
    He would dance and be merry
    Life would be a ding-a-derry
    If he only had a brain

  37. I was in BestBuy over the weekend and it seemed like every third person was carrying a MJ CD or DVD, and I wasn’t quite sure why – did his music get better? Have his alleged offenses gone away? Is not so creepy any more, now that he has been buried brainless?

    It’s not like they are gonna stop making any more MJ albums…

    His video compiliations are currently #1 THROUGH #5 in video sales at Amazon.com (US)

    His albums are #1 THROUGH #12 in music sales at Amazon.com (US) – with a token Jackson 5 CD at #8, their “Ultimare Collection”…

  38. STOP IT. STOP IT. All of you who are criticizing Michael and talking negatively about his missing brain. That procedure may be necessary for his final outcome of his demise. Maybe his family accepts this method of an outcome. Please, please allow Michael to rest in peace. After all is said and done, he was a human being, a child of God, who came and took him back to Heaven. It appears by some of you and your messages, Michael was not appreciated. Of course, you the stone throwers, are closet Michael Jackson listeners. Please allow his family to grieve in piece and please stop the negative words about Michael Jackson. He was once on this earth and now he is gone. No more should be said. MAy Michael rest in peace.

  39. Let’s not forget the travail’s of Einstein’s brain (book: Driving Mr. Albert). It would seem completely logical to me if the family wanted avoid the same fate and to have a complete set of remains for burial. Perhaps that is the reason we do not know a final resting place. It could also allow additional time to settle burial details (i.e. a possible Neverland location). Cremation should not be ruled out either at this point.

  40. The brain is removed in each and every autopsy that is done. All organs of the body are removed and weighed and examined. It’s all standard procedure in EVERY autopsy.

    When a death is under suspicious circumstances, possible drug overdose or a possible homicide, the brain is removed and slices of it must be made for microscopic examination. You can’t just take out a brain and start slicing it to make the slides. The consistency of a human brain is very similar to handling egg whites – impossible to slice. The brain has to soak in a formalin solution to “firm up” the tissues so that slices can be made and it takes 2 weeks for the tissue to become firm enough to be sliced.

    MANY bodies are buried without the brain. Happens every single day. It’s just not publicized or talked about a lot. I doubt that families are even informed of this and have no idea at all that their loved one’s body has been released to them (the funeral home) with the brain missing.

    My fiance died under “suspicious” circumstances that was initially treated as a potential crime scene, until it was later confirmed to be a suicide. Because of this, (and because I obtained a copy of the autopsy report) I know that he was buried without his brain. It indicated in the report that the brain was placed in formalin for preparation of slides to be made. No, it didn’t specifically say that his brain wasn’t returned to his body, but I know how long the formalin process takes and he was buried just 3 days after the autopsy – so I know the brain was missing that day.

    Nobody from the medical examiner’s office or funeral home ever mentioned this fact to me or the family. They just don’t do that. They figure most non-medical people don’t know this fact and there’s no sense in bringing it to their attention and causing them extra grief. Unless you work in the medical field in pathology or in forensics, or you just do a little online research on autopsies, most people are completely unaware of this fact of the autopsy procedure and how common it is. I have never seen any reason to tell the rest of the family about what I know – that he was buried without his brain. It pains me enough because it was definitely his finest feature. I just wonder what ever happened to it. I suppose it ended up in an incinerator – along with all the other bio-hazard waste from medical facilities.

  41. Wow. The top thing I’ve learned since MJ died is how much gibbering idiocy was pent-up in human ‘civilization’. Great balls of frothing fire!

  42. How many bodies are buried brainless in the US each year?


    how many are walking around, calling other bodies bad names without evidence?

  43. Hey was that Neil Fifer on stage (the future Captain America) on stage when they were all singing ‘We are the World’ at last night’s Memorial?

  44. i hope that Michael’s kids don’t hear about this. How would you feel if you were 11 or 12 or even 7 and the doctors say ‘ were taking daddy’s brain to see if he died from drugs’

  45. pharaoh + body burried in parts ->
    Isis resurected Assur the begetter (Osiris) by tracking down his bodyparts
    intresting connection

    Let him rest in peace
    We all miss him
    He’ll live in our hearts forever
    I love u MICHAEL

  47. Cool. I bet you they’re doing this so they can revive him later on like in Futurama. I hope that’s the case so he can see how much ppl really appreciated him after his death

  48. poor man…. no peace when he was alive and now no peace when he is dead and gone selfish america

  49. my name is bryanna,
    i am a very big #1 M.J. and fan and if all of you are really mj fans to you he would never be dead in your heart he would still be very much alive

  50. Hi my name is Elizabeth Wyrick im from chillicothe missouri and i love michael i miss him like anybody else does he tought me how to ba a stronger singer and i plan yo ba a singer when i get out of high school but im sixteen and im going to american idol next year i will do antything to live my dream like michael did and im glad that he was a sigerhe will never be forgotten. I have every album he has ever made and im gettin the jackson 5 albums to i just wanted to say that im sorry to the family and his friend and back up dancers and just everybody that was close to him i wish i could have been able to meeet him but i didnt i miss him so much Jnet good luck with your career and i love the jackson family Goodbye.

  51. Nima Sherpa I humbly thank you for your beautiful comment.
    What about us? When is the last time you watched a sunrise and sunset or walked in the rain, or climbed a tree I love that I could sit in a tree all day long and breathe in nature.
    We must come together we don’t have much more time only until 2012 and then it will be too late to reverse the damage we have done.
    We must preserve our rain forests we need to protect our environment, reduce pollutions people and use only environmentally friendly products as much as possible.
    We must give back to nature what nature has given to us.
    Peace & Love be with you.

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